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attention. Diligence in your secular duties is important, as a security against temptations, as conducive to your comfort and usefulness, and as included in the obligations to justice and charity. It therefore, in its connexion and influence, is a substantial part religion. Diligence in the work of your souls is the principal thing; for your future salvation is so much superior to all other interests, that it is called, The one thing needful. However diligent you are in your secular calling, if, in the mean time, you neglect your salvation, you only trifle; for "what will you be profited, if you gain the whole world, and lose your soul ?"
Be not only fervent, but steady in your work. A wavering zeal makes no progress. "The doubleminded man is unstable in all his ways: Let not that man think, that he shall obtain any thing of the Lord."
Be fruitful in every good work. Aspire to eminence in holiness." "Forgetting the things which are behind, reach forward to the things which are before, and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling."
3. Guard against the things, which rob you of time.
your An indolent habit is inconsistent with laudable actions. It creates imaginary, and magnifies real difficulties and dangers. It raises a lion or a hedge of thorns in its way. It enervates the powers of the body, and stupifies the energy of the mind.
A versatile humor is active, but wants patience. It forms great designs with confidence, enters upon them with ardor and leaves them unmatured. It flies from object to object with too much rapidity to appropriate or retain any. Novelty only has charms; familiarity begets indifference. Time is lost, because nothing is prosecuted to effect.
An excessive fondness for company and amusement, is the cause of much waste of time. Diversions may be innocent; but then, they must be well chosen,
wisely timed, and moderately used. They must be well chosen-such as will not exhaust, but repair the strength, refresh the spirits and dispose the mind for the return of duty. They must be wisely timed; for however innocent in their nature, they become sinful, when they occupy the hours which ought to be employed in the exercises of devotion, or in the labors of a secular profession. They must be moderately used; for, sought too frequently, or indulged too freely, they entrench on duty, and beget a habit of trifling.
How many are there, who transgress these rules? They know not how to be confined to their proper employment. They yield to every little avocation, and obey the call of every son of pleasure. Their vacant hours they give to amusement, and make no reservation for the culture of the mind, or the devotion of the closet and family. If you would redeem your time, restrain your love of pleasure.
Beware of presumption. "Boast not of tomorrow," Only the present time is yours. Tomorrow does not yet exist. When it comes, it may not find you here. If you should see it, yet you cannot retain it. It will be as transient as today.
4. Do every work in its season.
"There is a time for every purpose; and a wise man's heart discerneth time and judgment." Attend with discretion to the calls of duty, and you will save much time and prevent much loss. It is so in your worldly business: Make a good arrangement of its parts, and take up each part in its order, and you will execute the whole with facility and success; while your improvident neighbor, who leaves all his matters in confusion, and takes hold of his business as it happens, and usually at the wrong end, is always embarrassed with cares, straitened for time, and disappointed in the result.
This attention to seasons is no less necessary in the work of your salvation.
Youth is the most promising season. Then the work is most easy, and attended with fewest obstructions; and then there is the fairest prospect of divine
If that season is past with you, take the present; for the future is uncertain, and the difficulty of your work and the indisposition to attempt it will increase by delay.
The time of health is more favorable than a time of sickness; for you are now more capable of intense thought and persevering application, and better able to prove your sincerity.
There are some tender seasons, when the conscience is awakened, serious sentiments impressed and good resolutions excited. Improve these seasons. Resist not, but comply with the encouraging motions of the Spirit, lest he retire, and no more return.
There are seasons friendly to particular duties. For your daily devotions, choose the hours, when your minds can be the most free from the occupations of the world, that you may attend on God without distraction. If you would advise or reprove a friend, take a time, when you can speak to him in private-when you feel your own minds affectionate, and think his to be calm and tender-when you can address him inoffensively, and he may hear you dispationately. In do ing works of charity, observe opportunities. There are times, when you can do something for your neighbor without any inconvenience to yourselves, and with sensible benefit to him; you may yield him much service with small expense, and do him lasting good in a short time. By thus attending to the seasons of duty, you may fill up your time fast, and live long in a little while.
5. Wisely divide your time among your various duties.
Lawful things will become criminal in you, if they Occupy your time so far, as to exclude other things of VOL. III.
greater importance. The duties of religion are consistent with each other, and may be made to harmonize in practice. If they interfere, it is because you throw them into confusion, and your time into disorder. Distribute your seasons properly, and arrange your works prudently; then you will find means for all incumbent acts of beneficence and rightcousness; liberty for the daily exercises of piety and devotion; leisure for family instructions and counsels, and time sufficient for the prosecution of your secular labors.
We have seen how we are to redeem the time.
II. We will briefly attend to the argument subjoined, "The days are evil."
We shall not dwell long on this argument; for it has been in part inticipated under the preceding branch of our subject.
Our days may be called evil in a moral sense, as we have done much evil, and there is evil still within us. Some are under the full power of sin. These have not only the work of religion to begin, but much sin to repent of, many vicious habits to eradicate, many fleshly lusts to mortify, the work of their past lives to undo, and a new work to accomplish. They have hitherto been travelling in a wrong path, and their guilty way they must tread back by the careful steps of repentance. We have all much work on our hands. If we have exercised repentance unto life, yet our work is not finished. There are corruptions to conflict with, temptations to watch against, daily duties to perform and continual improvements to make. We must cleanse ourselves from all pollutions, go on to perfection and give diligence to the full assurance of hope. Our work is important; upon our fidelity in it depends our comfort here, and our happiness hereafter. Now is the season to provide for eternity. There is no work in the grave. We have no time to spare.
Our days may be called evil, as they are few. We "Few and evil have been may say with the patriarch, the years of our pilgrimage." Since our work is great and our time is short, we have need to redeem the time by a diligent application of it to the work before A considerable proportion of our time is gone already if this has been wasted, how frugally should we use what remains ?
Some have arrived to that time of life, which is eminently called an evil day. It concerns them to review their days, prove their works, examine their hearts and know the condition of their souls. If they have been slothful in business, let them now become fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. If they have slept in their guilt it is high time to awake out of sleep; for their Time is far spent.
The days are evil, as iniquity abounds. Many temptations to a waste of time, will meet us from the enticements and examples of the wicked, from the suggestions of evil spirits, and from the influence of worldly cares. Let us walk circumspectly redeeming the time. While the world around lies dead in sin, saints too easily lose their zeal. When the foolish virgins slept, the wise slumbered with them. Let us not sleep as do others, but watch and be sober.
The days are evil, as this is a state of mortality. We are subject to affliction and exposed to death. Our fellow mortals are dropping around us; and we are soon to fall. Our last day is at hand; we are not sure of another. What time may be allowed us, let us wisely improve, in examining our hearts, correcting our errors, repenting of our sins, amending our lives, cultivating religion in ourselves, promoting it among others, and seeking the mercy of God for our own and the common salvation. Thus, when the time of our departure is come, we may adopt the language of the Apostle; "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness""